Making a difference in older person’s health

Kaumatua on their annual World Smokefree Day hikoi from Rehua Marae.The number of older people in New Zealand is growing rapidly. Most people aged 65+ years are fit and healthy, but a minority are frail or vulnerable and require high levels of care and disability support. These increased needs usually arise during the last few years of life, or from chronic illness or disability that may have been present for many years.

Te Mana Ora | Community and Public Health is therefore committed to ensuring positive health outcomes for older people in our region. South Canterbury is the only South Island region with more than 15 percent of their population aged over 65.

It is predicted that more than one in 5 people in NZ will be aged over 65 by 2031 and of these one in 8 people will be aged 85 or older. Of significance over the coming decades is the growing proportion of older Māori, Pacific and Asian peoples as well as other ethnic groups.

Calls for action to improve access to health and disability care for older people

Health and Disability Commissioner media release: 7th March 2024

A report released by the Aged Care Commissioner Carolyn Cooper highlights the need for action to meet the ongoing health and disability needs of older people.

The Aged Care Commissioner makes 20 recommendations to improve quality of care in her report, which is underpinned by the voices of older people, their whānau, carers and providers.

She says older people are enormously valuable in our communities. “With quality, accessible health and disability care they can maintain their independence and dignity and contribute to
their communities for longer.”

“At the moment older people are not always able to access home and community support or residential care when needed and the sustainability of these workforces needs to be prioritised.”

The report focuses on the need for an integrated continuum of care that concentrates on prevention and support to help older people navigate health and disability services. The report’s insights consider the importance of:

  • Transitions of care for older people between hospitals to home and community support services (HCSS) and aged residential care (ARC);
  • Investing in innovative primary and community care models;
  • Preventative interventions for dementia | mate wareware; and
  • Ensuring access to reliable, quality home and community services to age well at home.


New “Life without a car” booklet launched

Age Concern New Zealand and Driving Miss Daisy have released a valuable resource to significantly benefit our country’s older non-driving population.

Cover image of Many older adults face changing from being active drivers to needing alternative transportation options. Age Concern New Zealand recognises the importance of helping older people maintain their independence, social connections, and mobility at this time of transition.

The “Life without a car” booklet is designed to empower older people and their families with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about transportation, and mobility options.

The booklet offers practical guidance, tips, and resources for people who may no longer drive or choose not to own a car. It covers topics such as:

  • Alternative transportation options, including community transport services;
  • Staying socially connected and engaged in the community;
  • Managing groceries, medical appointments, and other essential tasks; and
  • Safety considerations and tips for pedestrians and passengers.

Supporting the health and wellbeing of kaumātua in Canterbury

Te Mana Ora | Community and Public Health have set up both monthly Health Hubs and Health Clinics for kaumātua or elders and the wider community to access in Canterbury. A steady stream of kaumātua make good use of the information, resources and advice that is on offer. Kaumātua are empowering themselves, developing awareness and taking responsible action for their own health and wellbeing needs. This includes getting medication advice and having checks for blood pressure, hearing, vision or other medical conditions.

Often further medical care is recommended to address concerns raised by the health checks, such as GP follow-up or specialist referrals. All the Hubs and Clinics include whanaungatanga and laughter over a cup of tea.

Changes to paid whānau and family care for older people and others

More people can receive paid care from whānau or family members – as a result of recent funding changes. Previously whānau or family members could only be paid as caregivers for people assessed as having high, or very high needs.

Caregivers providing support for whānau or family members who have low or medium needs can now also be compensated for their time and effort.

Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand funds this support for:

  • older people;
  • those with chronic health conditions; or
  • people with mental health or addiction issues living in the community.

Visit the Te Whatu Ora website for more information on paid care support, or talk to your family doctor.



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


For more information, contact:

Harata Franks
Ph: +64 3 364 1777

Contacts for more information:

Older Person’s Health Specialist Service (Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury)
Ph: +64 3 337 7899

Age Concern (Canterbury)
Ph: +64 3 366 0903

Elder Care Canterbury
Ph: +64 3 366 5472

Age Concern (Ashburton)
Ph: +64 3 308 6817

Age Concern (South Canterbury)
Ph: +64 3 686 6844

Contact the Elder Abuse Response Service if you are concerned about elder abuse:

  • Call the FREE helpline 0800 EA NOT OK (0800 32 668 65);
  • Text 5032; or
  • Email support[at]

Staying Safe: Refresher courses for older drivers

Age Concern offers FREE refresher courses for senior drivers all over New Zealand to help keep older people safe on the roads – with support from Waka Kotahi | NZ Transport Agency.

The theory-based refresher course is an opportunity for people to re-familiarise themselves with traffic rules and safe driving practices in a friendly and relaxed environment with other older drivers. The course includes information on other transport options available to help keep you mobile for as long as possible – whether behind the wheel or when you stop driving.

Contact one of the following to find out more information on Staying Safe courses in your area:

Shingles vaccine for older adults

Shingles is a painful rash affecting a particular nerve. It is a long term effect of chickenpox many years after people recover from the disease.

Shingles usually occurs in older people and lasts from 10 to 15 days. The nerve pain can last long after the rash disappears.

A vaccine against shingles (Zostavax) is now free at age 65 in New Zealand.

Advance Care Planning: Having conversations that count

Advance Care Planning (ACP) is the process of thinking about, talking about and planning for future health care and end of life care.

Advance care planning gives everyone a chance to say what’s important to them. It helps older people understand what the future might hold and to say what treatment they would and would not want.

This makes it much easier for families and healthcare providers to know what the person would want – particularly if they can no longer speak for themselves.

Advance Care Planning... Let's talk... Poster (HEA0019).

Page last updated: 18/04/2024

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